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November 3, 2014 Staff

How to Transform an Old Truck into a Concession Truck

It is possible to bootstrap a concession truck, get positive cash flow, and upgrade the truck later with your earnings. In this video with the co-owner of M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, Bob Pierson demonstrates how one customer was able to pick-up a used Cintas truck at auction for around $3,500. The diesel engine in this vehicle worked well, but the outside had noticeable wear-and-tear that needed to repaired before hitting the road.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re able to acquire an older truck that comes from a fleet like Cintas, bread trucks, or even FedEx trucks you’re typically better off than working through an independent owner. Why? You can be more confident that the vehicle has been maintained and received regular oil changes. Trucks owned by these businesses have regular maintenance schedules and sometimes you might even be able to view the repair history of the vehicle you’re considering. Although this might not always be possible, it’s worth asking before making a purchase.

What You’ll Learn

In this video, Bob outlines the process required to take this tired fleet truck and convert it to a fully-operational food slinging vehicle.
Here are some of the highlights.

Creating a Floor Plan: The truck in this video has an 18 foot bed. The owner of the truck required a significant amount of equipment placed on the truck so you need to be thoughtful about how weight is distributed on the truck. Ideally, you want a weight distribution that is as even as possible from the right to left side of the vehicle. As a value add to any customer of M&R, we offer guidance on the design and layout of equipment to ensure food can be served efficiently and safely out of each truck.

Placement of Propane Tanks: The positioning and installation of a propane tank is critical for both the safety of the operator and customers. In this example, we built an aluminum box that fit into the bed of the truck. This helped to distribute some of the kitchen weight and created a completely sealed unit so no vapors can get into the inside of the truck. Two vents were also installed so that any vapor would travel outside. This solution provides both safety and convenience for the customer since propane tanks don’t even need to be taken off the tank when they are refilled.

Water System:  To operate a food truck legally in just about every state you will need a 3-compartment sink with operational water system. In this case study, Bob demonstrates how water hookups have been setup within this vehicle. This truck has a 20 gallon fresh water tank and a 30 gallon waste. Unless you’re doing a lot of dishes on the go this is a sufficient system for the majority of operators.

Serving Windows: This is a critical element of any concession vehicle since this is where most customer interactions will take place. In all concession trucks, we recommend installing a pop-up tray that can be used to place things like condiments and napkins. We also install a fold down serving window that can be used to protect your window when during transit.

Custom Door: We needed to install a custom door at the rear of this vehicle.

Equipment Inside the Truck: You don’t need brand new equipment in a food truck. Often, used equipment from a restaurant can be purchased at a discount, installed easily, and work great. In the video, Bob demonstrates this how a sandwich prep refrigerator was able to be installed. A mix of new and old equipment is not a problem assuming it works well and fits correctly into the vehicle.

Generator: The generator is without question one of the most important pieces of equipment on a concession vehicle. After all, if the generators not working you won’t be able to operate remotely. For this vehicle a generator was installed with two main breakers. 1.) Is the power source that allows you to plug into an electric socket. 2.) Is the breaker to your generator. It’s important to separate the two from a safety perspective so you don’t back feed and ruin your expensive equipment. We also provided easy access to the generator from the outside through an installed door so that you can easily access or remove the generator in the future.

With a bit of creativity, a quality concession truck can be built on a budget. If you’re in the market for a concession truck give us a call at 904-397-0246 and we can help execute your vision.

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